The Zurich Classic of New Orleans will be played as a pairs competition this year. Notable teams include Justin Rose with Henrik Stenson and Jason Day paired with Rickie Fowler.
Players will compete in teams on the regular PGA Tour this week for the first time since the 1981 Walt Disney World Team Championship. Pairs will play alternate shot on Thursday and Saturday and best ball on Friday and Sunday. FedEx Cup points and prizemoney are up for grabs and will be split between the pairings.
The two most fancied pairings in the field this week are Olympic gold and silver medallists Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson and the dynamic looking duo of Jason Day and Rickie Fowler. Other pairings to watch include Branden Grace and Louis Oosthuizen and Jordan Spieth and Ryan Palmer.
Rose and Stenson have a great record playing together. In 2014 they won all three of the matches they played together in the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles. Rose has been a winner of this event as an individual – two seasons ago in 2015.
One of the oldest events on the PGA Tour, the New Orleans Open was first contested in 1939. Over the years the tournament has produced a diverse selection of victors – 10 different nations have been represented in the winner’s circle over the last 25 years. Given the cultural melting pot that is the city of New Orleans, such variation seems appropriate.
Last year Brian Stuard was the champion. He beat Jamie Lovemark and Ben An in a playoff.
TPC Louisiana was altered dramatically by original designer Pete Dye, together with Steve Elkington after the 2005 tournament. Many of his changes involved adding hazards to demand a more strategic approach. It’s a course where precision is essential. The greens are relatively large but they are undulating and it’s vital to leave yourself on the right side of the flag.
The forecast for the week isn’t great with strong winds predicted for the weekend.
Venue: TPC Louisiana, Avondale, Louisiana
Date: April 27-30
Course stats: par 72, 7,425 yards
Purse: $7,100,000 Winners: $1,022,400 (each)
Defending Champion: Brian Stuard (-15)
Thursday 27– Sky Sports 4 from 8.30pm
Friday 28 – Sky Sports 4 from 8.30pm
Saturday 29 – Sky Sports 4 from 6pm
Sunday 30 – Sky Sports 4 from 6pm
Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson – The favourites are both Major champions, Olympic medallists and proven match players. Rose comes into the event having narrowly missed out on Masters victory.
Henrik Stenson swing video:
Hideki Matsuyama and Hideto Tanihara – Matsuyama is superb tee to green and Tanihara is a great putter, they should match up well.
Keegan Bradley and Brendan Steele – They know each other well and both have showed good form: Steele has a win this year and Bradley has three top-10s.
Key Hole: 17th. A par-3 of 215 yards, this tends to rank as the toughest hole on the course. With a recently reshaped green, a pot bunker guarding the right side and difficult run-off areas, par is an excellent score here.
Skills required: Course management. Finding the right positions to attack the undulating putting surfaces is a key to success here.